IATF OKs limited in-person classes for all degree programs in schools under Alert Level 2 areas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 5) — The Inter-Agency Task Force has given its go signal for limited face-to-face classes with up to 50% capacity in all degree programs for schools located in areas under Alert Level 2, subject to three conditions, Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Prospero de Vera announced Friday.

De Vera said these conditions are:

1. students, faculty, employees are vaccinated, and the vaccination rate must be high

2. the local government is okay with it

3. the facilities must be retrofitted and inspected

"Na-approve po sa IATF kahapon (IATF approved this yesterday), that [Alert Level 2] is equivalent of MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) areas," he said during his speech at the ceremonial COVID-19 vaccination in Palawan State University.

De Vera added, "Most probably, that would probably happen in areas where vaccination rate is already high like maybe in Metro Manila universities."

The CHED chief, citing data from higher education institutions, said the nationwide vaccination rate among faculty members and other employees is 73% while the coverage among students is less than 30% as they were only recently included in the list of people who can receive COVID-19 vaccines.

De Vera also said he intends to push in-school vaccination in the tertiary level to speed up the inoculation process, given the universities and colleges have the masterlist of their students and some of them are being used as vaccination centers.

"Napansin namin sa aming pag-iikot, mas komportable ang mga estudyante kapag ang vaccination ay nasa eskwelahan kasi nakikita nila yung kanilang school at mga kaibigan (We had observed that students are more comfortable if the vaccination will be done in schools because they are seeing the campus grounds and their friends). There is a certain level of comfort in vaccination in schools," De Vera told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Ngayon.

The CHED chairman reiterated that COVID-19 vaccination is not required for tertiary students. Those who are not interested to get vaccinated may still opt for flexible learning modes.

The clear guidelines for the limited face-to-face classes will be released next week, De Vera added.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who also speaks on behalf of the IATF, confirmed de Vera's statements.

"Pwede pong magkaroon na ng limited face-to-face pero hindi po 'yan instant," he said in a press briefing.

[Translation: Limited face-to-face classes can now be conducted, but there would not be instant implementation.]

He noted schools in Alert Level 2 areas must meet the conditions first.

Initially, in-person classes were only for those taking up medicine as well as allied health sciences. In September, the President approved CHED's request to expand face-to-face classes to engineering and technology, hospitality management, hotel, and restaurant management, tourism management, marine engineering, and marine transportation programs in higher education institutions under MGCQ areas.